By Barry Janoff
October 3, 2013: Charles Barkley is an ex-NBA player who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame and now is known for his analyst role during NBA and March Madness games.
But somewhere deep down is an IT guy busting to come out, a role that has been given another life thanks to technology solutions firm CDW.
Barkley stars in a new series of commercials for the Vernon Hills, Ili.-based company, his third go-round for CDW. This time, though, he has company — Doug Flutie, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1984 as quarterback for Boston College and played in the NFL, Canadian Football League and U.S. Football League during a 20-year professional career.
The new campaign, "The Dome," includes a series of spots about the fictional company of Gordon & Taylor, which, supported by CDW, "deploys technology solutions that deliver the ultimate fan experience and team performance on and off the field."
The campaign will break on ESPN during Monday Night Football, with the spots then going into regular rotation national TV. Support includes radio, print, Internet and social media. Lead agency is Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago.
The jock-IT nerd role is a reprisal for Barkley from a campaign unveiled by CDW in 2012 under the umbrella theme "People Who Get IT." He first appeared in "The Ringer" to help fictitious company Gordon & Taylor win a corporate basketball league championship, and then came back in the “Client Golfer,” where he won new business by losing to clients on the golf course.
During March Madness this year, Barkley came back for CDW as the "Road Warrior," showing how CDW technology can aid businesses "with the latest technology products and mobility solutions."
According to CDW, "The Dome" campaign theme allows the firm to "showcase the latest Total Mobility Management, data center optimization, cloud computing and converged infrastructure solutions, among others. Partner solutions from Intel and Lenovo, among others, are featured, along with the CDW capabilities that power them."
Among the TV spots:
• In "Go Long" Barkley and the CEO for fictitious Gordon & Taylor are seeking IT solutions. Flutie has been brought in as a consultant. "Go long," he advises, a reference to his legendary last-second "Hail Mary" pass in 1984 while at Boston College to defeat Miami on national television. The advise won't work here, though, and Flutie is sent packing.
• "Dome of Dreams" finds the Gordon & Taylor team in a stadium to which it has bought naming rights and is powered by CDW solutions.
• In "Cheerleaders," Barkley and crew have too much time on their hands because CDW has resolved so many problems, so one of them decides to become a cheerleader, much to the dismay of the others.
• Barkley shows off his football chops in "More Productive," in which his game plan is to "go with a West Coast offense, an open backfield, up tempo, baby!" The HP EliteBook, however, ultimately provides real solutions.
• "HP Printer Faster Than A T-Shirt Cannon" sees Barkley shooting quarterly reports and other important data that has been printed on T-shirts into the stands, only to find that an HP Printer is a more efficient way to distribute the information.
• Barkley dons a mascot outfit to excite the crowd in "Fired Up On Converged Infrastructure Solutions," but the IT team prefers to get excited by converged infrastructure solutions from CDW.
"The creative concept for 'The Dome' campaign aligns with our extensive experience deploying technology solutions across major professional sports facilities, and it ties together CDW's capabilities in a memorable way," Neal Campbell, svp and CMO for CDW, said in a statement. "If we can enable Gordon & Taylor to build the most technologically advanced stadium in the world, imagine what we can do for your business. Charles Barkley, and now Doug Flutie, help us highlight technology solutions that deliver a better experience, improve business performance and boost productivity."
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